The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Hosts Fetal Surgery Patient Reunion in Florida

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Over 100 Floridians, including patients treated while still in the womb, reunite with their Pennsylvania doctors and nurses.

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“It is truly inspiring to see so many children, who as babies likely could have died, now running around and growing up healthy and strong.”

The Center for Fetal Diagnosis and Treatment at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) brought together a unique community of families from across Florida: all former CHOP patients who either underwent fetal surgery to treat conditions before birth, or needed specialized care or surgery immediately after birth. The group gathered at the spring training home of the Philadelphia Phillies, Bright House Field in Clearwater, Florida.

This reunion is an offspring of CHOP’s annual Fetal Family Reunion, an ongoing 17-year tradition in which over 1,200 people from all 50 states gather in Philadelphia each June to celebrate, reconnect with their medical teams, and interact with other families who have experienced similar struggles. Nearly all of the children in attendance were prenatally diagnosed with a birth defect, such as spina bifida or congenital diaphragmatic hernia, that had potentially devastating outcomes.

“Babies with special needs require very specialized and experienced care, both before and after birth. The families gathered here today represent more than 13,000 expectant mothers from around the world to whom we’ve been able to offer hope and support since opening our Center in 1995,” said N. Scott Adzick, M.D., Surgeon-In-Chief at Children’s Hospital and director of the Center for Fetal Diagnosis and Treatment. “It is truly inspiring to see so many children, who as babies likely could have died, now running around and growing up healthy and strong.”

This Florida reunion was an opportunity for staff and patient families to reunite, celebrate and enjoy a fun-filled family day at a Phillies spring training game. Patients who attended the reunion ranged from several months old to the Center’s very first fetal surgery patient, Roberto Rodriquez, Jr., who is now 16 and threw out the first pitch of the game.

“The high volume of patients we see from around the world with incredibly complex, rare conditions makes all the difference in achieving favorable outcomes,” continued Adzick “Our experienced team are world leaders in fetal surgery, having performed nearly 1,000 fetal surgeries and treated hundreds - and, in some cases, thousands - of patients with a given diagnosis, including over 100 families from Florida alone.”

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The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia was founded in 1855 as the nation’s first pediatric hospital. Through its long-standing commitment to providing exceptional patient care, training new generations of pediatric healthcare professionals and pioneering major research initiatives, Children’s Hospital has fostered many discoveries that have benefited children worldwide. Its pediatric research program is among the largest in the country, ranking third in National Institutes of Health funding. In addition, its unique family-centered care and public service programs have brought the 516-bed hospital recognition as a leading advocate for children and adolescents. For more information, visit

The Center for Fetal Diagnosis and Treatment at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia is an internationally recognized leader in fetal surgery and fetal care. One of the only programs of its kind in the world, it offers a comprehensive breadth of services, including fetal therapy, to support patients from prenatal evaluation through delivery, postnatal care, and long-term follow-up. Established in 1995, the Center has welcomed more than 13,000 expectant parents and received referrals from all 50 states and more than 50 countries. Its multidisciplinary team brings decades of experience to the care and treatment of the fetus and the expectant mother. The Center has performed nearly 1000 fetal surgeries, including complex open procedures for birth defects such as spina bifida; less invasive fetoscopic or ultrasound-guided surgeries for conditions such as twin-twin transfusion syndrome; and specialized coordinated delivery approaches for babies that require surgical intervention while still on maternal-placental life support (EXIT delivery). For more information visit

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